Last week a North Carolina Baptist pastor went on a 55 minute sermon-tirade about amendment one, gay people, and most notably what to do if you think your son is acting “gay” or “effeminate.” Though any parenting book in the world would tell you otherwise, this man recommended breaking the limp wrist of young boys and punching your son if he acted too effeminate. Young girls, in contrast, are not to be allowed to get “too butch;” dress them up and make them objects of attraction.
The outcry from the queer community was immediate and intense. Child abuse is bad; that’s just a baseline standard most all people operate under. Moving on from that those in the queer community either personally know the pain of being “different” as a child or they have friends or partners who know that pain. Allies in the fight for just treatment in society heard the sermon and said “no, that’s wrong.” We united.
This pastor eventually issued an apology – sort of. He apologized if we were offended. He didn’t say he was sorry he said it. He justified it by saying he was using hyperbolic speech to get a point across like in the bible. He didn’t elaborate on which parts of the bible he found hyperbolic but I know I’d be interested.
This sermon-tirade occurred in North Carolina before the Tuesday vote on Amendment One, an amendment that passed and therefore reinforced the ban on same-sex marriage in North Carolina but also took scores of rights away from not married couples, same sex or heterosexual, that live together. It’s an amendment that had no purpose whatsoever and passed only because of fear, homophobic, lies, and scare tactics. I know what it is like to lose these fights; to sit around as your rights are voted on all day and then watch the polls come in not in your favor. It’s heartbreaking.
There’s the heartbreak of those voting against you but there’s the added heartbreak of the “liberal” community who have decided they are “too liberal” or “too radical” or “above” marriage equality. These are folks who tear down the victories many of us have fought long and hard for by telling us that we’re not being radical enough, or liberal enough, or that we’re buying into the system too much. And when we lose something we fought hard for we’re told by these people not to be sad. We were fighting for the wrong thing anyway. Immediately articles about how we only car about marriage when, for instance, the prison industrial complex still targets LGBTQ prisoners and nobody cares pop up all over social networking sites.
The message is clear: if you fight for equality that buys into preexisting systems you are being naïve.
Today, less than 24 hours after Amendment One passed in North Carolina, President Obama came out publicly in support of full marriage rights for same sex couples making him, obviously, the first sitting president to do so. I, along with hundreds of others, was elated. We had a president, finally, saying something beyond evasive answers like “that is up to each state” and “civil unions that grant all the same rights and protections are comparable…”. We had a president saying “I believe gay people who want to get marriage should be able to.
It’s a big moment. We shouldn’t underestimate that.
Almost immediately those “I’m more liberal than you” folks came out, posting articles titled things like “Barack Obama’s Bullshit Marriage Announcement.” Saying, again, “You’ve bought in. It’s pathetic how much your bought in.”
This is an issue I’ve been passionately fighting for for years. Marriage equality DOES still matter; we cannot wait for everything to be perfectly aligned, for all other injustices to be healed before we celebrate any wins.
I’m happy that Obama came out in favor of marriage equality. I’m going to celebrate that.